Ink & Papyrus - BLOG

Profane & Profound: Only a Shade Apart

...musings from Bangalore Lit Fest 

My first outing as a panellist in a literary festival is not at all deficient in fond recollection. G. Sampath, Gurcharan Das, Rosalyn D’Mello as co-panellists and Ananth Padmanabhan to stir the pot as the moderator, surely the topic as designated was not going to be any less than “Ooh n’ Aah” in “Talking Erotica”. Having sat down on the dais, there certainly was a moment of trepidation on looking across the crowded hall with every seat taken and many standing. In a panel related with films, a filmmaker has a natural advantage of affinity and can perhaps even be a trifle unabashed in his reflections, but in a literary atmosphere, it was natural that I had to watch my step. [caption id="attachment_2251" align="aligncenter" width="768"]bangalore-lit-fest_2016_vinod-pande Session on Erotica at Bangalore Literature Festival 2016[/caption] Rosalyn set the tone by being forthright about her book “A Handbook for My Lover”, a daringly subversive account, more like a diary, about her live-in relationship with a man thirty years older than her. Gosh, that seemed so much closer home; except that the age differential between me and my partner is a little over half as much. But the territory; at once familiar and formidable in terms of complexities! Pain, ecstasy, angst; a tantalising potion of love, lust and loss melted and marinated in the crucible of desire. In my unanchored state, paper and pen, or shall we say, computer keys and clicks were safer options, despite already having found my haven in films with the kind of cinema I became known for. But you released me; thank you Rosalyn for unclamping me. But it was the philosophical reflection on Kama, Dharma and Desire by Gurcharan in the context of his new work, that we were hurled squarely into the arena of conflicts appertaining to sexuality, ethics, morality and such encountered by the modern society we are the part of. I would have been a rudderless ship in threateningly choppy waters if G. Sampath had not enumerated some of the bits from his anthology about erotica in the book he edited, “The Pleasure Principle – The Amaryllis Book of Erotic Stories”. Inevitably, though almost organically the interrogatory gaze was at me; for the double jeopardy of uninhibited sexuality in both my films and books. I had to stand up to what I always believed in. It was part rebellion and part urgings of the heart that I have always found myself among the dismantlers of the hypocritical Indian middle class society, which I have christened “The Muddled Middle”. skp_0122I had to be unreserved in emphasising that sexuality for me is not a standalone situation; it is instead an essential ingredient of humanism. Each caress, each bite, each kiss, fondling of erogenous zones, interplay of the organs unto and into each other’s is an expression of emotion, stating of deep feelings of love between the copulating couples, even if the love may be a transitory affiliation rather than an everlasting bond between the two. It is thus that the scenes as picturised or spelt out in words on paper in my work are often graphic. Thankfully and largely, all my films right from the first one “EK BAAR PHIR” to “SINS” and my novels “DON’s WIFE” and “SAANVRI: the story of a concubine” about man-woman relationships, whether marital or extra-marital, have been heralded for the author’s honesty and aesthetic integrity. What also came into discussion is the fact that in almost all my creative enterprise, the woman, whether urban or rural, emerges as a potent force; a ‘Shakti’ who will not be brought down to dust or even if it happened, invariably she will rise from the ashes to determine her destiny herself in a repressive men-centric world. Breaking the shackles of societal norms, she will even form sexual bonds outside the marriage unapologetically and unreservedly, on the terms that would be her own. It was in this context that the portions of “SAANVRI: the story of a concubine” were read to underline the point that despite the woman in my books and films turning from ‘plaything’ to ‘player’ herself, there is never any compromise on her dignity or integrity as a person of substance. She would walk tall as a woman for all seasons. In attempts to dismantling the specious tenets of ‘Manuvad’, it became relevant to unmask the hypocrisy of the religious and cultural merchants by citing the duality presented in the open in many of our temples, beside the well-known Khajuraho. My own experience at the highly revered Padmanabhan temple in Thiruvanantpuram came handy, where alongside the most pious sculptures and statues of Vishnu and other gods of Hindu pantheon also exist in full public view, the most daringly graphic frescoes and statues of the gods in the state of highly titillating postures of copulation. It surely triggers curiosity as to why do we make so much huff and puff about pornography, if that too makes the same focussed point on the (w)hole, what these engraved figures are shown to be doing unreservedly on the highly pietistic and holy temple walls? As a much respected film director once observed that it is only the incidence of lighting which differentiates an art film from a commercial one, I’d perhaps not be faulted to state that Profane and Profound are proximal; surely not more than a shade apart. My salutes to all the artistes and authors, who did and still do walk on the wild.
admin | 03-Jan-2017